One of Craig LaBan’s favorite young chefs, Alex Capasso is back with his own place, Blackbird Eating Establishment in Collingswood, and it is excellent.
It is the seamless contemporary cooking from Capasso and his longtime kitchen lieutenant, William Connelly, that truly makes Blackbird worth a trip – even with a $3 bridge toll.
Rooted in French and Italian techniques with a few nods to Asia, and using excellent local ingredients, Blackbird’s kitchen delivers some memorable plates. Dinner isn’t cheap, with regular menu entrees ranging into the high $20s. But Capasso also turned out one of the best $30 four-course menus I’ve seen for a recent “farm to fork” event, though I’ll concede I couldn’t resist that menu’s numerous opportunities for upgrades.
Three Bells – Excellent
A welcome homecoming [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Blackbird Eating Establishment [Official Site]
Not quite thin crust, not quite Sicilian, La Rosa Pizza at Broad and Snyder “deserves a hearty bite of consideration in the great pizza debate.”
Good Taste – Pan pizza perfetto [Philadelphia Inquirer]
The Philadelphia Inquirer has gone and taken the food blog plunge debuting Food and Drinq this morning. Backed by Inquirer writers Maureen Fitzgerald, Michael Klein, Rick Nichols and Craig LaBan Food and Drinq is the latest Philly.com blog. So welcome aboard the Internets and good luck with the tubes. We just have one question, what took you so long?
Food and Drinq [Philly.com]
Craig LaBan tries the comfort food of 707 Restaurant & Lounge and finds some worthwhile comfort food updates but not enough to escape a one bell rating.
Yes, there is style galore at 707, which is one of the most handsome restaurants to open this year. But are the scenesters being fed with substance?
That depends, of course, upon what you order from the extensive and affordable menu of updated American classics, which hits highlights with overloaded salads and a nearly perfect omelet. But on the whole, the cleverly fussed-with comfort food – something of a cross between Jones and Marathon Grill – is packed with more “whimsy” than “yummy.”
One Bell – Hit Or Miss
707 Restaurant & Bar [Philadelphia Inquirer]
707 Restaurant & Bar [Official Site]
PhilaFoodie gives his intelligent and well written take on the Craig LaBan/Philly Mag flap.
Philly Mag: Publishing LaBan’s Picture Was a Mis-Steak [PhilaFoodie]
Craig LaBan reports on Modo Mio, the Italian BYO on Girard Avenue that has quickly become a destination for those beyond the neighborhood.
The rustic flavors here are just as genuine and inviting as the sounds that fill the room. And they’re presented with a simplicity and affordability (four courses for $30!) that feels true to the spirit of Italy’s neighborhood osterias, which are smaller, more quirky, and a shade more homey than a trattoria.
Two Bells – Very Good
Modo Mio [Philadelphia Inquirer]
New York Magazine’s restaurant blog Grub Street chimes in on the anonymity issue.
What makes the story especially satisfying, aside from the usual unmistakable air of Philadephia conflict, a city specialty akin to fame in L.A. or status in New York, is the comeuppance it provides LaBan, the worst of all American critics at preening his ridiculous disguises and costumes. We always found the idea of restaurant critics going out in disguise ludicrous, especially the famous ones, like Ruth Reichl or LaBan, whom everybody knew anyway.
Philadelphiaâ€™s Chief Critic Unmasked; Area Restaurants Say, â€˜Who Cares?’ [Grub Street]
Philadelphia Magazine has chosen to run a photo of Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan. LaBan has always been very protective of his identity and was recently sued by Chops Steakhouse for Libel. The PhillyMag story dealt with that suit.
Philadelphia Magazine has posted their story about Chops and its lawsuit against Craig LaBan. Also posted is a post from Philly Mag editor Larry Platt who defends his decision to run the photograph of Craig LaBan with the story.
I do this because, as Zack Stalberg, former editor of the Daily News, points out in Volkâ€™s story, anonymity for LaBan has become something of a gimmick. He shows up in disguise to public book readings, making those of us who have extended the courtesy of anonymity to him complicit in his publicity stunts. Moreover, most everyone in the restaurant community knows what he looks like anyway. (In fact, weâ€™re not the first to out his image; the Chestnut Hill Local and a magazine named Real Philly have already published photos of him.) But mostly, weâ€™re running a shot of LaBan because this whole debate about his anonymity just smacks of so much self-importance. Listen, the guy eats meals and writes about them. Heâ€™s not Valerie Plame, okay? If Volkâ€™s compelling story leaves us with one big-picture takeaway, let it be an acknowledgment that with all the problems in this world and city, none of us should take a couple of steaks quite this seriously.
High Steaks [Philadelphia Magazine]
Why We Ran The LaBan Pic [From The Editor, Philadelphia Magazine]
Philly Mag has gone and done it. They’ve published a photo of Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan.
INQWASTER food critic Craig LaBan will be none too pleased with Philadelphia magazine for printing his picture in its September issue. Not only because he goes to great lengths to preserve his anonymity, but also because he’s lost a good deal of weight since the unflattering photo was taken.
The picture appears in an eight-page story by Steve Volk about a libel lawsuit filed in February by Chops (401 City Ave.) in Bala Cynwyd.
Mag blows food critic’s cover [Philadelphia Daily News]